It was very much a weekend to forget for Aston Martin at the 2022 Australian Grand Prix, but there are legacies of their underperforming car that, sadly, will transcend the nightmare race in Melbourne.
Aston Martin have struggled with horrific handling on their car since the turn of the new technical regulations, and Lance Stroll declared himself “frightened” of their 2022 challenger during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix over the radio.
The Canadian and returning team-mate Sebastian Vettel were then involved in crashes during FP3 on Saturday morning, before Stroll collided with compatriot Nicholas Latifi moments after his car had been repaired for qualifying.
Vettel crashed into the wall and out of the race on Sunday, before Stroll was given a time penalty and a penalty point for weaving on the straight to defend from Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas.
The 24-year-old is now on eight penalty points having also received two for his incident with Latifi.
Stroll would eventually finish the race in P12, and on the cool-down lap, he could be seen taking his hands off the steering wheel, and the wheel almost inexplicably began turning all by itself, such is the erratic nature of the AMR22.
The Silverstone team’s problems likely run deeper than just one or two simple design flaws.
Since purchasing the team in 2018 during its Force India days, Lawrence Stroll is said to have taken on a prominent role in the day-to-day running of Aston Martin, despite having little experience in the pinnacle of motorsport.
His affiliation with it began when he paid for his son Lance to race with Williams in 2017, but his roots in business stem from the fashion industry.
His hands-on and perhaps intrusive approach is what drove former team principal Otmar Szafnauer to leave and join Alpine, and it seems that there is no unequivocal leader at the team with Stroll, CEO Martin Whitmarsh, chief technical officer Andy Green and team principal Mike Krack all involved.
Journalist Joe Saward recently suggested that Stroll would be “nine parts bonkers” if he is trying to have a definitive influence on the running of the team, and 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve suggests that his fellow Canadian has completely underestimated the requirements for running a cohesive F1 team.
“Running a team takes more than just money, as Lawrence Stroll is now finding out with Aston Martin,” he told Formule1.nl.
He also indicated that the situation is made more convoluted since Stroll’s son is racing for Aston Martin.
“It is not a clothing chain or a watch brand, because it is much more complicated. Especially if you’re running a team for your son, finding solutions becomes all the more complicated.”
The 51-year-old tore into Stroll for his bizarre collision with Latifi on Saturday, and affirmed that the amalgamation of errors made by Vettel “do not suit his stature” as a four-time champion.
“Looking at this weekend you saw that Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll kept getting into trouble,” he explained.
“Stroll’s incident with Latifi in qualifying was just embarrassing. He also once blamed the track for the crash, which was perhaps the strangest explanation for a crash ever.
“And in the race we saw that Stroll really does use his mirrors given his swing tactics.”
After Alex Albon’s points finish in Australia, Aston Martin are now the only team yet to score points in 2022, which will not be helping the “atmosphere of anxiety” at the team, as was reported by Michal Schmidt of Auto Motor und Sport.